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The traditional postplaying career of TV punditry would likely be too small-bore for someone with an estimated net worth of $115 million. And his value as a national pick-me-up is waning. High on economic success, India may no longer need a dose of Tendulkar to feel good. "India's self-confidence, which he helped to build, is now strong enough to cope without Sachin," says Guha. "There is life in India after Sachin, but I don't know what life for Sachin can be after cricket."
Unless there is more cricket. Freed of the huge weight of expectations he has carried for much of his career, the world's greatest athlete can now pursue a pure enjoyment of the sport he has enriched. History suggests an unburdened Tendulkar is a prolific Tendulkar, especially if he continues to unravel the mysteries of the zone. The satisfaction of reaching the zone is personal and intense, he says, even when there's no winning outcome. He then quickly adds, "But I would want an outcome." A world-class player can tolerate nothing less. So everybody please pipe down and let him play.